Counter-terror ‘undermines the law’

By staff

The counterterrorism programme followed by the UK and US undermines the law, a report by judges and lawyers has said.

The independent International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) also concluded most of the measures were counterproductive.

The report highlights how many countries with poor human rights record now point to UK and US anti-terror plans as justification for their actions.

It also describes the pre-September 11th 2001 system as adequate to deal with the current terrorist threat, and calls for the justice system to be strengthened.

Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman Edward Davey said: “This is damning testament to just how much liberty has been ineffectually sacrificed in the ‘war on terror’.

“Britain cannot afford to become further isolated in terms of its international reputation. The Government must heed the advice of these eminent jurists and come clean now.”

Among the policy areas subject to criticism are control orders, weak diplomatic assurances in relation to deportations and pre-charge detention.

The Home Office responded to the report by reiterating the level of terrorist threat against the UK.

“We recognise clearly our obligations to protect the public from terrorist atrocities whilst upholding our firm commitment to human rights and civil liberties,” a spokesperson said.

“Our policies strike that balance, with new legislation facing rigorous scrutiny through external consultation and in parliament as well as being subject to the Human Rights Act, which the UK government enacted.”

But Arthur Chaskelson, chairman of the panel, said: “In the course of this inquiry, we have been shocked by the extent of the damage done over the past seven years by excessive or abusive counter-terrorism measures in a wide range of countries around the world.

“Many governments, ignoring the lessons of history, have allowed themselves to be rushed into hasty responses to terrorism that have undermined cherished values and violated human rights.

“The result is a serious threat to the integrity of the international human rights legal framework.”